The Vent: People vs. Ryan Lambert Edition

The Vent is a column that hands the mic on Puck Daddy over to hockey fans to rant, rave and react to everything in the game. If you have a pitch for an editorial, or have one written, and want it featured on Sunday, email with the subject “The Vent.”

Ryan Lambert's polemic on the Buffalo Sabres certainly stirred the pot. From KC in Buffalo:

I've always been a huge fan you, your twitter feed and blog. I generally consider you fair, critical of the NHL (which is nice in a world of talking yes man heads) and humorous.

However, Ryan Lambert's article on your site, is abhorrent. I have no idea how you could publish and endorse it.

Criticizing the play is one thing, and I 100% agree that it was a dirty hit. But just because Scott is large, can skate with the best of Mites and fights, doesn't mean he's a dirty player, an animal killer and has four brain cells.

The guy has a degree in Mechanical Engineering (and for the record, Parros, another 'goon' went to Princeton, so let's not stereotype fighters here), he does work in the community, and is widely considered to be a genuinely nice person. He spoke in an interview that he was ill thinking about what he caused to Eriksson.

Where's the mention of that in Lambert's article?

Lambert also fails to point out that Scott has ZERO history of head shots, and as a commenter on your site pointed out, Chara, a repeat offender, had two the other night, and there is zero talk about that. Why? Because Chara is a Norris winner?

So if you're good at hockey it's okay to ruin the brains of the opposing players?

I know you likely get floods of emails, some coherent and some written by irate, drunk sociopaths with 3 fingers and caps lock permanently on, but I sincerely hope I hear back from you. I'd like know why you feel Lambert's article was not only justified by worthy of endorsement and publication. How you justify the personal attacks and claims of animal killing. With the dais comes the onus.

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From reader “Ron”:

Lambert trashed the Sabres but did anyone bother to read the comments below his scathing article?

An awful lot of people think Lambert is the jerk.

Let me type this very slowly and hope you understand this, Mr. Puck Daddy whiz.

Boston has come into Buffalo for years with the idea that THEY set the tone and we must abide by that.

In other words, they can injure us and we can get mad and get penalties.

Lucic has injured several of our players and we were damned sick of it.

Ever notice how Lucic whines like a little girl if someone actually hits one of his buddies…. back?

Yes, we never got over having a Stanley Cup taken away from us. Dallas was sucking wind and would not have put up much of a fight in one more game when we would have finished them off.


I can’t tell you how happy I was then Scott hit one of Boston’s “elite” players. ECSTATIC! OH THE JUSTICE!!!!!

See; Miller is an elite player too. The only thing that would have been better would have been for Scott to have hit a really really little Bruin so the Boston asses could REALLY complain. That size differential would have been even more fun!

Scott did exactly what he was brought in for, the stars aligned, the wind was in the perfect direction, here comes a juicy complacent target that have been led to believe only Boston can hit people in such a position.

And as Lambert said about players needing their heads on a swivel when Kaleta is on the ice, EXACTLY, DUH!

So Miller was out of his crease and Lucic thought he could assault him; you know, players respecting one another.

So one of their “elite” players was out on the ice, that’s good enough for me, knock his head off Scott. ATTA BOY! EQUAL TIME.

Lucic has smirked ever since; until the other night. I remember him saying after that game when he mugged Miller, “I knew they wouldn’t do anything.”

Cha Ching! Made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

• • •

Here's a different take than 99 percent of the emails we received.

In Defense of Ryan Lambert

By Jeremy Rotner

Anyone who engages in a casual perusal of the internet knows that comments below articles or op-ed's should be regarded as highly as the chances of Joe Thornton being de-throned from his ownership of the comment of the year. Yet there seems to be a particularly vitriolic level of internet anger reserved for the articles of Ryan Lambert above those for any other writer on Puck Daddy.

Is he really so off-base in his apparent singularly focused efforts to dismantle all that we love and treasure about the tougher aspects of hockey, fighting culture, and personal responsibility?

Sure, he comes across as caustic and dismissive frequently enough to warrant questions about how appropriate his writing is amidst all the ad-hominem attacks about John Scott. But are his premises incorrect?

Scott's astonished look in the penalty box as he questions “headshot?” should give us significant reason for pause. Scott comes across the middle of the ice, at a perpendicular angle to Eriksson's path forward up the middle of the ice, and accelerates into the hit. (At the very least, clearly charging). Given that nearly ever Shanahan-narrated video emerging from the Department of Player Safety focuses on the need to take a better angular approach to a hit, Scott should know his path to Eriksson can result in one of two collisions: connecting with Eriksson's shoulder from the side in a clean and full body check, or glancing across his front and inevitably making contact to the head. From this, what conclusion can we make about Scott that he elected to pick the path that wouldn't bring him more in front of Eriksson than equal with his side?

Lambert is absolutely wrong to question Scott's intelligence in general. It is a low-blow for a writer and serves little literary purpose other than to serve as a cheap pop or easy heat. But he is right to question Scott's hockey intelligence, and furthermore, his role in the NHL. Scott purposefully chooses a course of action that is more likely than not to cause Eriksson injury. His goal is not to separate player from puck. It is not to trap Eriksson in the neutral zone. He is making a hit with a strong potential for injury in a misguided attempt to demonstrate that the Sabres will not roll over. He is sending a message that the response to some universal notion of the weakness of the Sabres is to demonstrate as much force as is possible. This has clearly been a part of the Sabres' organizational and collective psyche since the Lucic-Miller incident, as Lambert explains. But that mentality is the wrong approach to hockey. Blind and unrestrained exercises of force are not demonstrations of strength. They indicate a lack of better options and reek of desperation.

Moreover, what responsibility should be placed on Ron Rolston, the Sabres coach?

John Scott played 5:15 through 2 plus periods before his match penalty with 14:11 remaining in the third. The Sabres were down by 2. Scott plays an average of fewer than 5 minutes per game, usually against the worst competition (courtesy of He averages 1.73 PIM per game. One the ice for the Bruins at the time of the hit were: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Eriksson (courtesy of What conceivable reason could Rolston have for deploying one of his worst players in Scott against a top line for the Bruins when down two goals in the third period? Scott bears responsibility for his terrible hit which will surely result in a suspension of significant length (at least 4 games, I'd imagine). But what responsibility does Rolston bear for playing Scott in a situation where he would offer nearly no positive contribution to his team on the ice at that point? What did he think Scott was going to do?

There is a perverse mentality in the hockey league that celebrates players who average less than 7 minutes of ice time, collect PIMs, and sit on the bench the rest of the night. They are purported to offer heart, grit, and energy that motivates the rest of the team and can be relied on to change things around on a bad night. What they really do is drain the team; they provide less rest for the top players, they are defensively liable, and do not put the puck in the net. John Scott is not Shawn Thornton, Justin Abdelkader, Brandon Bollig, or Jordan Nolan. Those are reliable fourth liners who legitimately contribute to their teams and should be celebrated. Maxim Lapierre, Scott, Patrick Kaleta, Zac Rinaldo, and Frazer McLaren are largely more detrimental to the success of their teams than beneficial. Regardless of how effective Kaleta or Lapierre are as penalty killers or Rinaldo is at getting under the skin of his opponents, there are other players who are just as good at those team needs while still being able to reliably play more than 5 minutes a night. We need to stop justifying and come to the defense of these borderline NHLers and their distressing actions.

Despite the manner in which he makes his point, Lambert is ultimately correct in his exasperation over the continued employment of players like John Scott.

• • •

From Trevor Paul, a take on "unworthy" NHL players:

I listen to your podcast and enjoy the blog but I am so sick of you and your writers slagging NHL players that you deem unworthy. Who are you to decide if John Scott or Maxim Lapierre belong in the NHL?

These guys have worked their whole lives to get where they are now. If they didn't deserve to play, they wouldn't have made it. It is so exhausting to read and hear you guys talk about players that don't have the status of Crosby as if they are dog [poop]. You guys could not be more wrong as hockey is a team game and you have no idea what those guys bring in terms of intensity and other intangibles to the team.

Also, many of these guys start out in fourth or third line positions as they work their way up to the 1st and second line. See Ryan Kesler or Andrew Ladd. Are those guys bums too?

Finally, I find it humorous that you and your team of bloggers face similar criticism from so called "journalists" who don't believe that you belong in the press pool etc. Do you not see the hypocrisy here? Did you not work hard to get to where you are now? Do you not deserve to be able to interview players and sit in the press box during games?

Thanks for listening and sorry for the rant. I just hope you guys stop this amateur reporting and get back to the good stuff because the last thing I want to read is another Mark Spector trash piece on "so called" goons.

• • •

As you can see, Lambert brings forth many opinions.